Another phone call with Brooks Boyer, White Sox Head of Marketing and Sales

If you somehow missed yesterday's interview with Dan Fabian, man, you are terrible at scrolling down. You should work on that, it's a pretty basic computer skill. Better? Good. Well as you read in part one, Tuesday afternoon's phone interview had two subjects. Today's was Brooks Boyer. And if you like free baseball bats and dream of drinking Big Hurt Beer on the concourse, then this is the post for you.

Mark Primiano: What's it like marketing in this year's environment, given that ticket sales have been going down and the team seems less likely to compete this season than the past two?

Brooks Boyer: It's obviously much different. When you think of last year and the whole "All In" campaign and the signing of Adam Dunn, bringing back Paul Konerko and A.J. Pierzynski, Ozzie getting the extension, all the momentum we had in the offseason last year, it's a little bit of an opposite effect this year. What I think is important is for us to understand where we are in the eyes of our fanbase and hope that when the guys get out on the field come March, people look at it and say "Wait a second...That's Konerko at first and Beckham at second. Ramirez at short and Brent Morel at third and Pierzynski's behind the plate? That's a pretty darn solid infield. You know who our outfielders are, you know who our DH is gonna be, you can see what our rotation is gonna look like, and what the bullpen is gonna look like". Let's look at this division and it looked like last year the White Sox on paper were gonna run away with this. How does this mean that the Tigers are going to run away with it? So hopefully we can get out of the gate a little stronger and people still like coming to the ballpark. There's always something unique about coming to the ballpark. It's different than listening to the game. It's different than watching the game. With what we've done with our dynamic pricing, we're making it more and more affordable for people who may have pricing as a concern.

MP: About the dynamic pricing, how do you think that is going to affect scalpers and the secondary ticket market?

BB: What we're ultimately trying to accomplish is that our fans think of whitesox.com as the best and safest place to go and get a ticket, either there or our ticket office. The price will be competitive unless someone is just dumping tickets. They know on the upside that if they're looking for a quality location, the scalper may be trying to get more than what we're charging. Hopefully, as time goes on our fans will realize that dynamic pricing doesn't just mean that prices are going up. That was a little bit of what I heard at SoxFest or through feedback I'd received, that "dynamic pricing means prices go up" and that's not always the case. The key thing is that the earlier you buy, the more you're ultimately going to save and that hopefully we'll provide more flexibility. We've been working with MLB to eliminate a few steps when buying tickets online.

Jim Margalus: It's been a while since the White Sox have had a really strong start that gets the fans excited. How much of an impact does that make on ticket sales from May onward?

BB: It has a significant impact. Our reality is that how we play in March typically determines how we draw in April. How we play in April determines how we draw in May and so on. Weather obviously has been a factor the past couple of years. The slow starts have been frustrating for our fans and us, because getting off to a good start means a lot to our fanbase and they want to be shown that this team is going to compete and give them a reason to come out and support the team and the style of baseball that Robin wants to play and I think that's going to play out in our ad campaign as well.

Paul Banks? Identify yourselves, people! You know I transcribe!: Besides obviously a division championship this year, what would be one of the new reasons to come out and see the ballpark this season?

BB: The number on reason is that it's baseball. That's always the main reason. Since last season ended, we've opened the Chicago Sports Depot. 12,000 square feet of retail space. All of your Chicago sports teams and many Midwest colleges are covered. It's really a one-stop shop for sports fans. It's right next to Bacardi at the Park, which was a big success for us last year and we don't expect anything less than that for the Chicago Sports Depot, which can be accessed from both concourses.

Frank?: Other than the weather and the play of the team, what are some other factors that affect ticket sales?

BB: Sometimes pitching matchups. Promotional giveaways can make an impact. Night of the week, school in versus school out. I'm curious to see that MLB took away some of our Saturday night games because they're going to have the Fox games moved to prime time. I'm curious to see what impact that has on us since Saturday night fireworks are always big nights for us. We've moved a lot of our fireworks nights to Fridays. We've tried to upgrade the promotional items so that when the families come out we want them to say "It would be nice to go get an Alexei Ramirez bobblehead doll or a chest protector". We've really tried to upgrade our giveaway days and we're bring back Bat Day (YESSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS!!!!!) so hopefully those all have a positive impact.

Jumping Jack Stankevitz: Going back to the dynamic pricing, you mentioned to Crane's Chicago Business that fans are going through an expected learning curve, but that response has been good. Can you explain that learning curve for fans trying to understand the process?

BB: A lot of people have the reaction to dynamic pricing that it means we'll raise the prices when we have the opportunity, but they don't think about the converse. We're working through how we communicate our pricing. So many people just think "I'm gonna go check and see on Stub Hub what people are dumping tickets for". Instead of thinking that way, we want people to learn to go to whitesox.com and see how the tickets are being handled there. The learning curve is understanding that the earlier you buy, the cheaper tickets may be.

Beer enthusiast: I don't know if this is your department, but will Big Hurt Beer be sold at the park next year?

BB: We are in conversations with the distributor right now. We offer a wide range of beers and I anticipate Big Hurt being one of those options this season.

MP: This offseason, we saw the Angels sign a new TV deal that was incredibly beneficial financially, allowing them to make some big impact free agent signings. Can you give us some insight on the White Sox current TV deal?

BB: When you look at the Rangers, the Angels, and the Dodgers, those are going to be some franchise changing TV rights deals and they were just in the right time, right place, and right market. For the White Sox, Comcast Sports Net has a partnership that includes all the non-Bears Chicago teams and that's our cable partner and that agreement runs for quite a while. The other partner is the over the air partner in WGN. Our deal doesn't come up for quite some time. You're starting to hear about the Cubs and what they're going to be able to do with WGN. We'll see where the Chicago market ultimately goes. What you have to remember is, that although you look at out marketing territory, yes it's a major market. But to the east is a lot of water and there's no one buying cable in Lake Michigan. To the north is Brewers' territory. When you go south, you start running into St. Louis' territory. Our territory is really good, but it's not as robust as L.A. or the entire state of Texas.

JM: Paul Konerko's quotes have been unusually pragmatic. They're not positive, they're not negative. As somebody who is in charge of generating excitement, what do you say when you see the captain of the team making these statements?

BB: Paul has been around a long time and is a very cerebral player when it comes to looking at not only what's going on on the field but also around him. He's one of the guys in my years that I've been here that has asked more business questions than any other player. Certainly I'm not inside his head, but what I think he's trying to say is that as you look at the grand scheme of things, if the Tigers win 110 games and we don't make it to the playoffs, then the development of some of the young players and the maturity that comes with a new coaching stuff bringing some of the younger players along, they put us in a position to be better as we move forward in our quest to get back on top. He goes into every season with the belief that if we do what we've been trained to do and the talent comes out in these players, that we have a chance to contend and get into the post season where anything can happen. Me interpreting what he's saying is that it's not an utter failure this year if we don't get into the postseason.

Jen: I have a question about the 4/17 game against the Orioles with the Peanut Free section. Are we going to have more games like that?

BB: We'll see how the first one goes. I've received a handful of letters over the last few years. We want to give everyone the opportunity to enjoy White Sox games. For those of you that know or have family members that have severe allergies, it just isn't a risk worth taking. One of our biggest challenges and why we haven't done something earlier is trying to get people with sever allergies to a location where they won't walk through areas that have peanuts or items containing peanuts in them. We think we've found the solution to that and we'll test it out and see if there's demand for more games.

I'd like to thank Dan, Brooks, and Marty for all their time. We should have another interview in about a month or so.

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